The whistle heard beyond the grave: provider, estate of former owner to pay $16 million

The estate of Lennie House, former owner of Nurses’ Registry and Home Health Corporation (NRHHC) has agreed to pay $16 million to resolve a whistleblower action against House and NRHHC alleging a widespread scheme of fraud, kickbacks, and other abuse, the Justice Department has announced. House’s widow already has agreed to pay more than $1 million. The government joined in the whistleblower action in September 2011, after investigating a case brought by former employees.

False records, forged signatures

According to the Justice Department, from 2004 until August 2011, House directed his employees to enter false information into medical records to make it appear that patients were home-bound or in need of nursing or therapy services that were not medically necessary. Sometimes, employees forged the physician signatures necessary to certify medical necessity.

Rewards for referrals

In order to induce or reward referrals for home health services, House and NRHHC gave doctors and other referral sources tickets to concerts or athletic events and other things of value, such as bottles of liquor. According to the Justice Department, the practice was so well known that physicians often called House seeking tickets to major events. These transactions violated the Anti-Kickback statute and the Stark law.

According to the Justice Department, the assets of House’s estate will be sold and 75 percent of the proceeds paid to the government. NRHHC also will be sold to an independent buyer, with 70 percent of the proceeds going to the government.